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Supported by HI and APHMOTO, Gawalé went to school and became a garment maker

Inclusion
Togo

Gawalé, 24, is blind. Thanks to the support she received, she was able to go to school. She talks to us about her experience and why we need to make the school system inclusive.

Portrait of a young girl wearing a blue veil, her face turned towards the camera and smiling. She is standing in front of a loom, manipulating it with both hands.

Gawalé Boukari, 24, is a garment maker. | © S. D. Songoi / HI

Gawalé’s story

When she was just one month old, Gawalé Boukari contracted an illness that left her blind. Thanks to the support of APHMOTO (Association des personnes handicapées motivées de Tône), HI's partner in the inclusive education and vocational training project, she was able to enrol in school at the age of six.

APHMOTO organises Braille training for teachers. Although this greatly facilitated Gawalé's schooling, she remembers that when her Braille-trained teacher was absent, she couldn't attend lessons with the others. Moreover, her classmates used to make fun of her and didn't let her play with them. Despite all this, Gawalé has no regrets about going to school; it enabled her to discover the profession she would later pursue: garment making.

"I'm very proud of myself because at the end of my training, I got my CFA, the apprenticeship completion certificate, whereas other people who are not disabled didn't get it.”

In 5 years' time, Gawalé hopes to be running her own workshop and employing a lot of apprentices to whom she can pass on her knowledge.

"School helps you to become someone in later life"

For Gawalé, it is important to break down prejudices about people with disabilities and help the community to behave in a more caring way. Above all, it is essential that people with disabilities also have access to education.

"If I hadn't gone to school, I wouldn't be the person I am today.” 

Improving the inclusion of children with disabilities in schools involves raising pupils’ awareness of disability and training teachers to welcome and support disabled children in their classrooms.

HI's inclusive education and vocational training project in Togo will run until 2025. In 2023, the organisation supported more than 2 000 children with disabilities in primary and secondary education, trained 116 teachers in inclusive teaching methods, raised awareness of disability issues among nearly 17 600 parents and community members and supported more than 100 young people in their professional training and integration.

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